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Five Tweets on Calgary’s water shortage crisis

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Ian Dyer fills a water jug with help from a friend at an emergency supply provided by the city as work to repair a major water main stretches into a second day in Calgary, Friday, June 7, 2024. The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh

Calgarians are dealing with major water woes, as some enter their 14th day without a proper water supply.

On June 5, the City of Calgary issued a notice of an “extensive water main break” and that Calgarians should be prepared to reduce their water usage. The day after, city officials explained the main break was on a primary transmission line that carries water across Calgary.

On June 7, City officials asked Calgarians to reduce their water usage by 25 percent, commenting, “If Calgarians do not reduce our water use, we are at risk of running out.” Repair crews were then sent to the water main. They removed the broken section of the pipe, a key step in the restoration process. At the time, the repairs were expected to take five to seven days to be completed.

Five days later, two men working on the water main were hospitalized after being injured at the job site. Installation work is paused for an Occupational Health and Safety Alberta inspection, but inspection work continues.

On June 14, city officials announced to Calgarians that water restrictions would remain in place for an additional three to five weeks due to more damage found in the water main. Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek declared that Calgary was in an official state of emergency after they discovered the additional damage.

Here are five Tweets capturing the water crisis going on in Calgary.

Sixty percent of Calgary’s treated water supply had been cut off as of June 5th, leaving Calgarians with minimal water to carry out day-to-day tasks involving water consumption or usage.

In addition to the imposed limits on water usage, the City of Calgary also established a phone line where callers can report fellow citizens for misusing water.

To conserve water based on the City of Calgary’s recommendations, Calgarians are advised to flush the toilet only after certain uses, limit showers to three minutes, brush their teeth with the tap off, and scrape dirty dishes as opposed to rinsing. More than 1,700 water misuse calls have been made, resulting in more than 1,000 verbal and written warnings being issued.

Similar to cottage rules, residents in Canada’s fourth largest city have been essentially told by the City of Calgary “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, flush it down.”

A public art display in downtown Calgary’s Stampede Park cost taxpayers $2.25 million. Another $4.9 million of taxes went towards protected bike lanes in Calgary’s Beltline. The creation of Calgary’s new slogan, “Blue Sky City,” cost taxpayers $4.8 million over four years.

Some Calgarians are now voicing their displeasure with this spending, viewing it as nice-to-have extras at the expense of funding the necessary upkeep of vital infrastructure like the city’s most vital water main. The cost of the water main repair has yet to be officially disclosed.

Meanwhile, James Smith, a professor of engineering at York University, commented that Conservative calls for axing taxes and small government, as well as politicians’ neglect of issues facing critical infrastructure, contributed to the water main break in Calgary.

Finally, Jenniffer “Elle” Laewetz, an Indigenous policy and government relations professional, drew comparisons to drinking water advisories in First Nations communities, some of which date back nearly 30 years. According to a 2024 government of Canada report, there were four long-term drinking water advisories on Alberta reserves since 2009. Some of the advisories lasted nearly a decade before being lifted by the federal government.

The repairs may not be completed until after the Calgary Stampede, which begins on July 5 and ends on July 14. In recent years, the Stampede has brought at least $282.5 million to the Calgary economy. For the first time, the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, its guests, and livestock could be without municipal water.

The Week in Polling: Young British Columbians want to escape their costly province, Trudeau’s successor, mandatory national service in the U.K., and the Edmonton Oilers

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Justin Trudeau speaks during a Liberal Party of Canada fundraiser in Ottawa, on Monday, June 10, 2024. The Canadian Press/Spencer Colby

This is The Week in Polling, your Saturday dose of interesting numbers from top pollsters in Canada and around the world, curated by The Hub. Here’s what we’re looking at this week.

British Columbians ages 18-34 are ready to leave the province due to high home prices

Young British Columbians are feeling the pressure of the province’s starkly unaffordable housing market, so much so that many are ready and willing to leave their home province for greener, and most likely cheaper, pastures.

In 2024, the average price of a home in British Columbia has reached just over a million dollars. Compared to other provinces, B.C.’s homes are, on average, by far the most expensive.